Why Do We Dream?

I had a particularly goofy dream last night, as most dreams tend to be. In this one I was in a dark misty back alley somewhere, when an older English looking chap dressed in a long trench coat complete with tails, a top hat and a silver tipped cane approached me. Now this can’t be good?

I was very frightened of this person and as he touched me with his cane, that part of my body began to disappear? The more his cane touched me, the more body parts on me faded away. And of course like in most dreams, I found I could barely move, my futile attempts at escape happening in slow motion.

Thankfully, my dream disappeared —  before I did!


Experts say that on average we dream somewhere between 4 – 6 times a night. Most dreams we never remember, a few we do recall upon waking but then soon fade away. There are some however that we may remember for hours after or even perhaps days. And then there are those (mostly nightmares) that can stay with us for weeks, months, even years. And a rare few — that last a lifetime.

Science believes, that our dreams are a result of our brain’s working while we sleep, reviewing the days events and discarding what it deems as not worthy for long-term memory. As you sleep, these bits and pieces of discarded memories get clumped together forming groups of a mishmash nature that we later (upon waking) interpret as dreaming. Perhaps that’s why some dreams (most?) have you jumping inexplicably from one situation, event or location to another, all within the same dream. And Usually without any pants on?

Others believe, that dreams are messages from our subconscious, with hidden meanings waiting to be interpreted. Example: That if you dream of birds — you are secretly hoping to hear from someone or expecting a message. That if you dream of nature or of animals — that you should trust your gut, return to your natural instincts in trying to resolve a particular troubling issue. And so on!

Regardless of how, or why we dream, the fact is we all do. And not just us, but other species as well. Every see a dog’s leg twitching while it sleeps? Whining or whimpering as it dreams? This is why science believes that dreaming is an important process of the brain, an integral part of our lives that without we wouldn’t survive.

Excerpt below is from Gary L Wenk’s book “The Brain. What everyone should know.”

ON Sleep — Sleep is required for the removal of built up waste products in the brain produced by normal brain functioning. In addition to providing an opportunity for the brain to flush itself of debris, sleep also allows Neuron wiring enhancement and strengthening.

Also, while you are sleeping the brain appears to rewind the videotape of your days events, replay them and delete weak or unimportant memories while enhancing those of importance. Essentially, sleeping and dreaming are ways that the brain has evolved to get rid of the chemical and mental debris that it collects during the day.


But what about those few rare dreams that stay with us over a longer duration. Dreams that we can remember having months or even years ago, perhaps going all the way back to our childhood days. Dreams that were so intense, so lifelike or memorable, or perhaps so frightening, that you will never, ever, forget them?

I myself have a few dreams from my childhood that I can still vividly remember. One when I was only 3 or 4 years old (before preschool or in my era, kindergarten) and one, as a teenager perhaps 13 or 14. Both are re-callable even now in my 60’s.

So why do I still remember these dreams after all those years? Perhaps because they were so frightening, and (at the time) left a strong emotional tag associated with these two nightmarish memories. After all, that is what makes a memory in the first place. You will be very hard pressed to recall a memory (not recent), that “doesn’t’ have some kind of emotional association attached to it.

Perhaps the stronger the emotional value, the better or longer we remember our dreams?


Could our dreams be chemically induced by stress, or hormonal changes in our bodies as say, a boy’s “wet-dream” during puberty, or a woman’s “life-change” cycle? Stress you’d think, would be a factor? We all have had those nights where stress and anxiety from our day has built up so as to making sleep difficult. Some, sadly have these issues more times than not! So are their dreams different from ours, more intense, more vivid?

What about today’s increased stress with the virus pandemic. Are we dreaming more because of it? Having more nightmares as a result of our anxiety over it!

Although dreams are still memories, they are remarkably made while we are sleeping! A story our brain manufactures for us, including in most cases: Images, narrative, a story line of sorts and feelings of emotion. Sometimes, very intense emotions, including fear, desperation, love or lust to name a few.

Yet, these dreams can be at times so life-like, so emotionally charged that we remember them upon waking. Sometimes remember them for years, even a lifetime.

And what about reoccurring dreams? Ever have the same dream over? Perhaps over and over many times? What does this mean? Is this dream trying to tell us something? Could it be a message from our subconscious that we are not yet able to interpret? Or possibly, a long ago memory that was so frightening or was so consciously damaging that it has been banished to the deep recesses of our mind; escaping only occasionally to then haunt us in a dream.

So what about your dreams? What dreams do you remember? What dreams will you — never forget?

And are these dreams subconscious messages? Or only intense emotional memories manufactured by our story-telling brain?

What do you think?







8 thoughts on “Why Do We Dream?

  1. I suppose one can argue that our waking state isn’t that much different from a dream, or even a nightmare given the things happening in my country as it inches toward fascism. But I’ve seem to have had a wide variety. Some prophetic, some crazy, some so real I felt I could wake up in the dream. We may never know, but it is essential to life

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, I too at my age, have ran the gamut when it comes to dreams. And I’ve had my share of “way too real” encounters. Like you said, almost like if you never woke up, you couldn’t tell the difference between dreaming and reality. Following that line of thought — how can we really be sure that what we’re experiencing now, that we call reality, is not in fact just one big dream. And perhaps reality awaits us only after death when we truly awaken? Not in a religious sense mind you, more one of consciousness.

      In other words — am I the dreamer, or am I the dream? Good talking with you again Harold.

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    2. Essential is the key. Maybe so essential its our real reality. Waking life is mostly maintenance. Food, shelter, health, reproduction, everything that keeps us going. Maybe its all just so we can sleep, so we can dream. You go insane if you don’t sleep. Makes you wonder anyway.

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      1. Speaking of dreams and this may be related. I once dreamt that I caught a man and a woman of some age with slightly marred facial features by surprise. Not with my physical appearance but by my dream appearance. They sensed that I was there and were horrified in my presence as if I wasn’t suppose to be there. They were standing in front of a huge glassed in cubicle and though I never saw inside, I felt it was the true me inside there, lying comatose.

        As my presence started fading away they looked directly at me. And they looked at me with love in their eyes as if they were my true parents. To this day I wonder? Did I, just for a second, glimpse true reality? Perhaps I’m on a induced matrix journey, as we all are here on earth? Dreams have a funny way of making you think of such things at times! Thank you for your input, it truly gave me pause for thought.


    3. Here’s another thought. One of the qualities of dreams is that, in a dream, anything is possible. Whatever you desire. (Also, whatever you fear, but that’s another story, sort of, about protection, which is also a desire.) But, attention and intention, on a universal communal consciousness level, may be a tool of evolution. Wings, lungs out of gills, sonar guidance, metabolic control, metamorphosis, deeply embedded desires all joined to move in a common direction. We don’t yet totally understand evolution. Survival of the fittest, the luckiest, the most determined?

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  2. That dream of yours sounds really eerie and spooky, with body parts starting to get missing …Are you trying to lose weight or something? 🐏🐖🐄 One recurring dream I have is that final exams are approaching, but I haven’t studied any bit!!🐌🦔 One exam I particularly dread in that dream is math exam🍬 But sometimes I also dream that even though I didn’t study at all, miraculously I got passed the math test! So my conclusion is we get both what we don’t want and want in dreams, although the don’t want part must be slightly out of proportion to the rest 🐨🐧

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dot. Sorry for the delay in replying. With being stuck at home most of the time now, I’ve gotten my days and nights all mixed up. Yeah, that dream was a little scary but wait till you hear my all-time most frightening nightmare back when I was a teen! I don’t even like to talk about it in fear that it may start to reoccur. And LOL, I wish dreams could make you loose weight. Wouldn’t that be handy? I’ve put on a few extra pounds myself recently being so inactive. Nothing extreme mind you but time to keep an eye on it.— talk to you soon!

      Liked by 1 person

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